Albion Park parents of triplets fear government cuts

Triplets Cooper, Brianna and Sapphire Smith with their parents Sharon and Stephen Smith. PICTURE: Robert Peet

Triplets Cooper, Brianna and Sapphire Smith with their parents Sharon and Stephen Smith. PICTURE: Robert Peet

Three cots, three car-seats, a pram-for-three - every purchase is multiplied for Albion Park parents of triplets Sharon and Stephen Smith who will struggle if a government allowance is axed.

A Commission of Audit recommendation this month urged the federal government to scrap allowances currently available for low-income families with triplets or more.

It’s a move that has been slammed by the Australian Multiple Birth Association (AMBA), which claims that families with Higher Order Multiples (HOMs) cannot spread costs out over several years like other families.

‘‘Families with HOMs have costs that are greater than those incurred for three or more singleton births due to the simultaneous nature of the costs and the inability to hand down items,’’ AMBA chairperson Lorna Barrett said.

Mr and Mrs Smith turned to IVF after eight years of trying for a child and they adore their trio of toddlers - Sapphire, Brianna and Cooper - who just turned two.

‘‘When you found out you are having triplets you are so excited, but then reality sinks in,’’ Mrs Smith said.

‘‘Of course we wouldn’t change them for the world and love them to bits, but the reality is that we’ve had to buy three of everything from the start.

‘‘Three cots, high chairs and other equipment. Three times the number of nappies, the amount of formula if you are not able to breastfeed - in the first year, I went through a tin of formula every two days.’’

Under the current arrangement, parents with triplets can apply for an income-tested allowance of up to $3752 per year while parents with quadruplets can apply for up to $4996 .

The allowance the Smith family receives helps them to buy the basics.

‘‘It helps pay for clothing, for nappies, for food, for petrol to get the kids to and from appointments,’’ Mrs Smith said.

‘‘Cooper has a developmental delay so needs occupational therapy and speech therapy and if I didn’t have a bit of extra cash for petrol I wouldn’t be able to get him there.

‘‘We did the sums and with childcare costs it didn’t make sense for me to go back to work, and my husband is a forklift driver, so if this allowance goes it would put a big strain on our finances.’’

Mrs Barrett, of AMBA, said families with triplets or more faced rising costs as their children grew and needed school uniforms, textbooks and money for excursions - all at the same time.

‘‘The financial pressure placed on these families has a huge impact on the lives of the children,’’ she said. ‘‘Not only do multiples miss out on opportunities and experiences, so do their siblings.’’

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